Sunday, April 01, 2012

Marriage - counting the loss

Marriage is a leap of faith but also a calculated risk. I don't think I was smart enough to get the big picture when I was in my early 20s. Life is too short to procrastinate over this one. You do kind of have to plump for someone, but you do have to be savvy and then quite prepared to stick at it.

I revisited the protect provide post this weekend, having heard a radio program about a piece of research claiming lads mags comments and rapists statements are indistinguishable. I was startled to hear the researchers refer to comments such as "A woman is sweet and needs protecting" as benevolent sexism. Gosh possibly when I was 20 I would have seen it that way, but I have lately become distinctly post-feminist - imagine someone wanting to either protect or provide for me! I don't think I'd know what to do with that. I am left with this legacy though, that my life plan started out with this dogged independence. Anyway there is no changing that.

When I split from Simon I must admit to a feeling that it would be possible to find a new husband, should I want to. I was 39 and still attractive. six years later it is dawning on me that this may no longer be an option. Except if I am able to make extreme compromise. To be with someone a lot less attractive than my ex husband and likely no nicer to be around. Apart from the question of why would I do that? there is a harder question that requires an unflinching answer. What have I lost in this option to be married?

Well in my case it was neither protection nor provision, nor financial security or status, nor even emotional support. (I have gained my freedom from an irrational leader who was also a selfish ineffectual fop).

By and large when I put myself back in my shoes in the heyday of my marriage, the feeling is not more, or less, isolated than I feel now, but about the same. I was overlooked, diminished, controlled and exploited and very, very lonely in my marriage.

The trouble is I am still subject to some of this from my ex-husband via connor - but that's another story

I think what I have lost is

(1) Some form of affirmation - of my attractiveness as a woman, of my ability to attract (and keep) a mate. Probably more critical as you get older,

(2) The facility of functioning as a matched pair- accepting dinner dates, reciprocating with other couples. Lovely non-threatening family parties and dinners.

(3) I have lost some sort (however false) of assurance about the future - that this person promised to, and will be, there for me if things go wrong.


Anonymous said...

That Protect Provide Defend argument was fed to me directly from Neil in the dying days of our relationship. Having read a little more about benevolent sexism, it is shockingly clear what that was. Another attempt to put me in my place. Just like he slammed me down and threw shopping and furniture around. This was just a little more softly softly. I can't believe I even gave it credence.

Anonymous said...

obviously there are a whole load of losses around Connor too. I am fully aware of that. He will have to navigate this landscape for the rest of his life. But I was really looking at myself in this post - Fiona